Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Papyrus Document “Lacks Red Flags”

Monday, April 08, 2013

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—A new analysis of The Gospel of Judas suggests that the Coptic document may have indeed been made in the third century A.D. Microscopist Joseph Barabe of McCrone Associates and a team of researchers tested the chemical composition of the inks and examined how the document was put together. The presence of brown and black inks had led them to suspect that the document was a forgery, but a French study of other third-century Egyptian documents shows that ink technology was changing at that time, in a way consistent with the inks used in The Gospel of Judas. In addition, if someone had been trying to create a new document on an ancient-looking papyrus, the new ink would have gathered in its wrinkles. But, it appears that the ink and papyrus of the document aged together naturally. “There was definitely a point where, all of a sudden, I just kind of relaxed and said, ‘This is probably just fine,” Barabe remembers.